Monthly Archives: February 2013

Move Your But!

yes but

I would go help Lord, but…. I want to reach out and help that person, but… Yes Lord, I know you’re calling me to step out and do that thing, but… I want to change my bad habits Lord, but…

Have ya’ll ever noticed that sometimes our but gets in the way? Another word for this is excuses. I have lots of them. I would speak Lord, BUT someone hasn’t knocked on my door inviting me to speak at their event. I would write that thing you have put on my heart Lord, BUT everyone is writing nowadays. I would start working out in the morning BUT I just can’t seem to get up early enough. I would invite more people over for dinner BUT I’m just not a great cook.  I would start a small group, BUT people make me nervous. I would do what you’ve put on my heart, BUT what if people think I’m crazy? I want to change the way I parent, BUT my kids will resist these changes. Really, there are thousands of buts.

Move your but. Really. Move it. Or have you not yet noticed it’s getting in the way?

There are so many stories in the Bible that would have ended up differently if people allowed their buts to make all the decisions.

Mark 1:16-18 describes a story about two commercial fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew. Jesus was walking along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Verse 17- He called out to them, “Come, be my disciples and I will show you how to fish for people!” v.18- And they left their nets AT ONCE and went with him.

I wonder what would have happened if instead of being led by God they had allowed themselves to be led by their buts? It might have sounded something like this: “We would Lord, BUT how will we provide for ourselves?” Yes Lord, maybe, BUT we need to know exactly where we’re going first, then we’ll think about it.”

Mark 1:19-20 A little farther up the shore, Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat mending their nets. He called them, too, and IMMEDIATELY they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men and went with him.

I wonder what would have happened if they were ruled by their buts? “Well Lord, we would totally follow you, BUT what about our father?”

I don’t even want to think about if Jesus had allowed himself to be led by his but instead of the Holy Spirit. “I would die on the cross for all of these wicked people, BUT I don’t want to endure the pain of the cross.” Ouch.

I believe Jesus is looking for people who hear his voice and follow at once and immediately. I believe we have allowed our buts (excuses, fears, laziness) to rule and run our lives for far too long. What is He asking you to do? Has there been something recently and you’ve heard yourself say, “yes, but…” I have had to challenge myself and continue to do so, to stop sitting on my but and learn from the disciples and say yes Lord.

The longer we allow ourselves to let our buts make all the decisions in our lives instead of being led by the Holy Spirit, well, sorry folks, but our but just gets bigger.

The blessing is on the other side of your but. Waiting, if you’ll just step out.

Lord, I’ve allowed my life to be run by my but so many times. Excuses, laziness, and fear have ruled and run my life for far to long. I want to be like the disciples, and follow you at once. I know that’s where the blessing is. Help me to step out. And Lord, every time I hear myself saying, “yes, but” would you, by the power of your Holy Spirit, show me what I need to do and give me the strength and the courage to say yes to you. When I am weak, you Lord, are so strong. Amen

The Girl with the Pea Coat

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Jade was tall and slender with porcelain white skin. She had chocolate brown hair with big green eyes. Her hobby and love was fashion. Others referred to her as the local fashionista. Give her an outfit with a pop of red and some leopard print and knee high boots and Jade was a happy girl. She regularly perused the fashion sites and subscribed to most all of the current fashion magazines. The way she saw it, she worked hard for her money and she could spend it as she pleased. Growing up with very little means and a humble beginning, Jade was determined to change the image of that little girl.

She had been saving up to purchase a particular special piece to add to her wardrobe collection. This particular piece was quite expensive and had even been worn by a royal family member. It was a wool pea coat of high quality. It was lined with silk, quarter length puff sleeves, and in her favorite shade of soft pink. Finally, the day came when she was able to purchase such a fine coat. “Surely the sacrifice was worth it,” she thought.

And in her mind, dressing the way she did was working well for her. She had a lot of people around her, always seemed to draw attention to herself, and was climbing up the ladder at her job quite nicely. Although on the outside, Jade seemed to have everything going for her, she couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something just wasn’t right. She would find herself at home at night, shades closed, covers drawn, and a sinking feeling that something was missing. She felt like she was constantly trying to fight the empty spaces and places inside her heart. Successful, young, beautiful- it should have been enough, right? But it wasn’t.

Jade purchased that silk lined pea coat and was absolutely enamored. After all, it’s what she had been wanting for so long. A few days after receiving her dream coat, Jade came home on her lunch break and turned on the local news as she prepared her usual- turkey on wheat with light mayo, tomato, and sprouts. As she brewed her hot tea she overheard the newscaster announce that a high profile visitor would be coming through her city later that day and apparently he was no ordinary visitor. He was a king. She cancelled all of her afternoon appointments in hopes of meeting this king. As word spread through the city, people were overheard saying that this was no ordinary king.

She arrived early to secure a close position. The people started talking amongst themselves. (Matt. 21:8) “The king is coming.” “We should lay out our coats to prepare the way.” As the people began to lay their coats on the road, she felt the stares of others. Her heart raced, palms turned sweaty. Anything but her coat, she thought. Why, she had lots of things that she could lay out that wouldn’t require much sacrifice at all. Oh, but not her brand new, wool, silk lined, puffy sleeve pea coat! Not that.

(Matthew 21:9-11) The crowd began to cheer, louder and louder. “Praise God, for the son of David! Blessed be the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Praise God in the highest heaven!” The entire city was stirred as he entered. “Who is this man?’ they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Jade had heard of this Jesus. She heard he healed the sick and forgave people of their sins. But something was holding her back. She wasn’t sure what. If Jade got very honest with herself, even all the clothes in the world would never be enough to fill the empty places of a lonely little girl on the inside. Oh, they brought her happiness at the moment, but then that feeling would fade, and she would quickly be on the lookout for that next ‘it’ item. Maybe it was a silk blouse with long beads, or a new pair of boots, or perhaps a pair of dark wash denim. The problem was that it was never enough.

“Who is this Jesus that rebukes the religious and allows the children to come to him?” “If this truly is the Jesus I have heard so much about, then this is my chance.” She felt drawn to a man she didn’t even know. But why?

And in that moment, turning the corner and coming towards her, their eyes met. She felt as if he could see inside her soul. She felt vulnerable, yet safe. She had always been admired because of her outward appearance, but it wasn’t so with this Jesus. For the first time, she felt like someone looked upon her with compassion, deeper than the outside garments; she felt a pure love. It was warm.

Without further hesitation, she quickly removed her coat. She lay it on the ground in front of him so that he could pass. And in that moment of sacrifice, that moment with the King of kings, she felt something change on the inside. Her heart began to soften. As she peeled the layer of the coat off, she felt lighter. And the heaviness she had been wearing her entire life was lifted. She wasn’t consumed any longer about trying to always make the outside look so perfect in order to hide the insecurities that were deep within her. As He went by that afternoon, over the coat that she thought meant everything to her, she realized that her life would never be the same. And at that moment, that coat that she saved for, worshiped, loved- meant nothing compared to what she had gained.

Matthew 16:24-26 (NIV)

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

You are a Gift!

 

gift

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

 

You are a gift; a treasure really. Have you ever thought of yourself in those terms? Most would quickly dismiss calling themselves this in thoughts of seeming prideful or haughty. Me, a gift? Surely not. Oh, but others, they are gifts; gifts to this world with their time and presence. But me? Truth is, others might look at you and see you as a gift and you would have to either reject their theory in order to stay humble or you could accept this as fact and as God given.

This subject has been floating around in my brain all month and at last, it must come out. When I missed going to church or missed some event, and someone approached me later to let me know that they had missed seeing me, I would secretly think they were saying. “oh, what happened to you?” Translate- Are you backsliding? Everybody else came, why couldn’t you? My glasses had more of a self-conscious filter on them.

But I’ve had somewhat of an epiphany on this. I had to put it in the context of other people, before I put it on myself. If there was a church or family event, and I let someone know (that didn’t make it) that they were missed, what am I really saying to them? For me, I’m really saying that they are special and when they’re not around, that it is noticed, and that truly, they are missed. No judgment on why they had to miss, but just the simple truth that their missing presence was known.

Here’s the deal- you, yes, you reading this, ARE A GIFT. And when you are not around, there is something about you that someone will miss. People might not always say it, so don’t keep a journal to find out how many people have said they missed you in the past month. The very being of who you are is so completely different than anyone else, God fashioned and formed, that no one will ever be able to replace you.

When I first moved here I went through a funk. Has anyone ever experienced that? The feeling where you can’t even really explain it, but you’re just not in a good place and the only way to describe it is that you’re in a funk. That was me. And the more isolated I became, the deeper the funk. I actually said these things in my head. “It doesn’t matter if I go or not, it’s not like I know anyone.” “It’s just one event, no one will notice if I go.” How many of you know that the enemy loves to isolate people? Because when he can isolate you, he has you captive to speak lies and deceive you. What else happens when you’re isolated? You don’t give yourself a chance to meet people, to get lifted up and encouraged, and you allow your own fears to rule and run your life. And again, the enemy has exactly what he wants. He will feed you with things like, “What if I go to the new members class and there’s no one like me?” Can I stop you right here, and tell you that there’s no one like you, and that that is a good thing? “What if there’s that awkward silence?” “What if everybody is just doing that fake ‘nice’ thing?”  And the enemy wins again. You, and your gifts, stay home.

I think we all need to take a realistic look of how the Lord views us. You and I are unique. We are a gift from God. He does not make mistakes, I assure you. If you are an introvert, rejoice. This means that you are probably very good at sitting down and talking with people and getting to know them, while people like me (uhm..) have a tendency to get fidgety and want to work the room in hopes of making sure I’ve had a chance to say hi to everyone. This is good. The extroverts and introverts must work together as a team, not competition! We all need each other.

 

Look in the mirror before you leave your house today and say these words: I am a gift. There is only one of me. God made me unique. When I am away, I am missed, and that is good.

I no longer filter those words of someone noticing I wasn’t there as them being religious and noticing every time I’m missing (and if they are, well, that’s between them and God, isn’t it?). I’m accountable to Him for what I do with my time, not man.

Just remember today if you catch yourself asking if it really matters when you’re not there- you matter. You make a difference. Some of you have a strong presence of joy on you when you enter a room- don’t keep that all to yourself! Share it, it is a gift to others. Some of you carry Gods peace wherever you go. Don’t keep it at home, there just might be someone at that event or gathering that needs to feel a little of that peace. Someone needed to be reminded of this today. Without you, Gods piece of the puzzle is missing and its just not complete! Go out today giving away the gifts He has given you and watch them multiply. Share your joy, share your gift of conversation, share your wisdom, spread your peace, and rejoice in the fact that there is no one exactly like you! How boring would it be if we were all the same? Thankfully we have creative Father who has made us to celebrate our differences instead of criticize them! So what are you waiting for? You are a gift! Go give yourself away!

Lord, anoint me to be used by you today. Thank you for these gifts you have given me- help me to not hide them, but to use them freely, as you would please. And thank you, that you have made me a gift to bring you glory. Amen

You are a manager of the gifts God has given to you. They may be great or small in your eyes, but they matter to God. “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV)